Back in March, FamilySearch announced that the Pedigree Resource File (PRF) database had reached over 150 million searchable names, growing at a rate of about 19 million names a year since its launch in 1999. The PRF is freely searchable online at www.familysearch.org, and notes and sources are available via low-cost CD or DVDs.
Today, Ancestry.com announced that its Ancestry Member Trees database has exceeded 275 million searchable names in its first year. Users of this free service have also attached 30 million family history records to their 3 million trees and uploaded 2 million photographs. Trees can be made public or kept private from other Ancestry subscribers. Tree contributors can give family members free access to their trees without the need for an Ancestry subscription and can specify who can change information and who can contribute photographs, stories and audio clips.
The largest Ancestry Member Tree has over a quarter-million names. Another tree has almost 3,500 photos. One user has shared his tree with more than 180 people.
Louise Roskell, from North Yorkshire, Great Britain, invited 15 family members to view her Ancestry.com tree. "[They] recalled stories about different members of the family," said Roskell. "Before I knew it, I had a wealth of photographs and was in touch with several relatives I had never met before."
Ancestry recently launched several international sites, including one in Italy, allowing a broader and broader audience of relatives to collaborate. Just yesterday Megan Smolenyak, Chief Family Historian at Ancestry, received an e-mail in Italian from a relative in Italy who found a common Italian ancestor in Smolenyak's Ancestry Member Tree.